Health and Human Rights

The inseparable relationship between the various

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Unformatted text preview: ntioned. These rights, which have not yet been generally recognized at the international level as legally enforceable, urge solidarity with the less privileged in order to rectify the unequal distribution of resources and to prevent and respond to human suffering. This category of rights includes the rights to development, to peace, to the equal enjoyment of the common heritage of humankind, and to an hpollute'd natural environment. , While different categories of human rights can be identified, they are all interdependent and interrelated. The inseparable relationship between the various human rights was clearly stated and repkated a t the 1993UN International Human Rights Conference in Vienna. WNWOqlNQ, RESPONDING TO, AND REDRESSlNa VIOLATIONS - Skates must not violate human Tights. This also implies that states should be held accountable when individuals are unduly prevented from enjoying and Bercising. their human rights. As with any other wrongful act for which states bear responsibility, individuals can ask for redress at a local level; for ~ &mpJe, by submitting a petition, filing a complaint, or starting legal procedures. In addition, a n i nternational human rights protection system &?\machinery")has been created with both proactive and response capacities. 26 International Federation o f Red Cross et al. Human Rights: An Introduction 27 ; DISCRIMINATIONAND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY The prohibition of discrimination is closely linked to the principle that "all human beings are born free and equal in rights and dignity." All people should be treated equally and given equal opportunity. In international human rights terns, discrimination is a breach o f a human rights obligation. The prohibition of discrimination is not restricted to ensuring equal protection before the law, but encompasses all kinds of discrimination, such as that related to housing or employment. Treating people equally does not necessarily mean that people should be treated the same. The tenn discrimination is used whenever people are treated adversely, either b y treating them differently where they should be + : It monitors and assesses compliance with human rights, interacts with national systems that protect human rights and provides remedies to persons whose rights have been violated. Monitoring of human rights engages UN bodies, and regional, national, and community official and nongovernmental agencies and organizations. Thereare uarious levels of possible enforcementto secure compliance with human rights 06ligations. The need to enforce human rights and remedy their abuses highlights the potential conflict between the universality of these rights and national sovereignty. Viewed in a simple way, human rights restrict the freedom of countries to act "as they please" toward individuals within their borders. Human rights make states accountable for the way they act, or fail to act. Seen from this perspective, the sovereignty of states is not absolute. However, the extent to which individuals can enjoy and exercise their human rights depends first on national legislation and national institutions. As a rule, international human rights bodies are only permitted to review complaints (for countries that have accepted the individual complaint procedure) provid(ed that all national remedies have first been exhausted. This is an important barrier and deterrent to many individuals who might wish to file a complaint with an international human rights body. Under some treaties, states are obliged to submit periodic reports to the treaty monitoring body, detailing the measures the country has taken to promote and protect human rights. These reports are reviewed (along with ul additional information supplied by NGOs). States that are not in fl compiiance may then be requested to make certain changes. There is also an individual complaint procedure under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, much of the work t o protect human rights involves diplomatic persuasion, public exposure, and criticism. Nongovernmental organizationsalert the public, stimulate public opinion, and "embarrass" the government by publicizing its human rights violations. Public opinion-and negative publicity in the national and international press-has been a major influence in some countries. Finally, rarely and in the extreme, imposition of trade and diplomatic sanctions or the collective use of armed force could be invoked. F tMnd the m e or b y mating t hem the MU where they rhovkf be treated &ff.&~ently. For example, both women aqd men have the right to vote. Therefore, if women cannot vote while men can vote, this is discriminatory became = m e n would be oeated adversely without j ustifidon, h h ~ e v ~ oung yi f children are not allowed to vote while adults can vote, this differenceis not &&minatory. Although they are treated a r e n t l y , it is justified by a realistic and rational asse...
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